Nearly 6,000 ticket holders for next weekend’s Belgian grand prix can heave a sigh of relief.
We reported recently that paid-up clients of a company called The Ticket Enterprise (TTE) would not receive their actual tickets for the Spa-Francorchamps race because TTE had gone out of business. But according to the Belga news agency, the organiser of the fabled and popular formula one race has agreed to allow the 5,600 affected spectators to enter Spa next weekend.
The report said the news was confirmed by chief promoter Etienne Davignon at a press conference.
Davignon reportedly told the affected ticket holders to take their payment receipt to the ticket offices at the circuit next weekend, where they will sign a document ceding their rights to the promoter Spa Grand Prix. This will allow the organiser to legally claim back from TTE the value of the tickets.
“We will see how we can recover (the money),” Davignon is quoted as saying. “It is too early to judge just how much we are going to lose.”
German journalist Michael Schmidt has expressed concern about the half-empty grandstands at Hockenheim last weekend.
In Auto Motor und Sport, he said he was “surprised” by the “lack of interest” in the German grand prix amid the fascinating 2012 season. Indeed, Germans have seldom had more to cheer about in F1, with the grid boasting legend Michael Schumacher, the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, three other race drivers and the Stuttgart marque Mercedes.
But only 38,000 spectators attended on Friday, 50,000 for qualifying and 62,000 for Sunday’s race. In 2005 there were 110,000 spectators on the Sunday, declining to 78,000 in 2008 and 65,000 two years ago.
“Certainly, the ticket prices are extremely high and the financial crisis has an effect, but isn’t this also true in England and Spain?” wrote Schmidt.
Indeed, in crisis-gripped Spain, 82,000 spectators turned out to watch Fernando Alonso in May.
Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler said the attendance figures for this year’s race has allowed the circuit to break even.
This weekend’s British grand prix debacle could cost Silverstone millions, track boss Richard Phillips has admitted after organisers vowed to refund spectators who stayed away from the circuit during qualifying on Saturday after plea’s from the circuit.
“It’s going to cost us a lot of money,” he told the Guardian. “I honestly don’t know the figure, but it could be a lot more than hundreds of thousands (of pounds).”
Phillips did, however, hail the patience and perseverance of the Silverstone crowd, after an ordeal that was recognised even from within the F1 paddock.
“I saw fathers with their sons and daughters, old ladies with backpacks and teenagers, all covered in mud and wearing their coats and hats,” said O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio. “I have never seen anything like this country. They are the best fans,” said the Brazilian correspondent.
Mercedes’ Norbert Haug agreed.
“They are the best fans in the world,” said the German. “They have taken everything – the rain, the cold – and they still came in their thousands.”
US Grand Prix tickets appear to be selling well. According to the American Statesman newspaper, the Circuit of Americas organisation is considering adding more grandstands to the track because the demand for the race is so high. Most of the tickets that went on sale a week ago are understood to have been sold already.
“We have experienced incredible demand for reserved grandstand seating tickets, and customers have quickly purchased our available inventory,” public relations vice-president Julie Loignon confirmed.
The first US grand prix since 2007 is scheduled for mid November.
Valencia has once again reduced the capacity of its street circuit ahead of next month’s European grand prix.
After a 112,771 spectator sellout for the inaugural event in 2008, organisers reduced the temporary seating capacity by 35,000 on lower demand the following year. The capacity was shrunk again, to 65,000, for last year’s race, and this year there will be only 45,000 places for spectators to sit amid Europe’s economic crisis, according to El Pais newspaper.
It means Valencia’s spectator capacity has more than halved since 2008.
We reported this year that although Barcelona is not convinced it should annually alternate Spain’s F1 hosting rights, Valencia is insisting the arrangement go ahead starting next year, as suggested recently by Bernie Ecclestone. Until then, only 13 grandstands have been erected for the June 24 race, a figure “that may increase depending on demand”, an official said.
The report in El Pais explained: “The organiser’s goal is to adjust the mounting costs to reduce the losses of previous years, especially in view of the high fees charged by Bernie Ecclestone.”